The Racist

I’m behind the bar at the hotel.  Got called in last minute to cover a shift for a fellow bartender.  I guess my fellow bartender had a death in his family.  Happy to help, he’s a great guy.

I get the bar set up, one guy is already there.  I go up to him, he asks for a vodka cranberry.  Sure, no problem.  I make him the drink.

We get to talking.  I would say he’s from a small town in Iowa, by the way he looks, and he told me.  He’s wearing what I believe to be a Nascar shirt.  He tells me he’s an electrician.  A solid occupation.  Better than bartending, I’ll tell you that.

He asks me, you like track racing?  I think for a moment.  My answer could help or hurt my tip line.  I say, honestly, um…I don’t quite know what that is.  But, no, car racing really isn’t my thing.  But it seems cool.

The thing about the beginning of the shift, there’s always that first guy that sits down, and you have to talk with this one person, because there’s no one else to help.  It can get awkward and exhausting, depending on the customer.  This guy, well, I’m trying to look busy cleaning and organizing, so I don’t have to talk a year with him.

He finishes his 3rd vodka cranberry, he asks for another one.  I make it, set it down, then he says, you know what I like about this place?  I say, what’s that?  He says,

There’s no black people.

Oh boy.  Here we go.

I can’t even remember the last time I met a straight-up racist.  At least one that ADMITS to it.  They’re a strange, hateful, ignorant breed of bird that I like to stay away from.  Yeah, of course, we’re ALL racist, up to a point.  But I clearly have a handful of black friends that I care for and love greatly.  And also, I voted for Obama TWICE.  And you definitely can’t be racist if you did that.

Just to clarify, I say back to him, you don’t like black people?  He says, no.  I don’t.

I say, ok.

Wow.  I just can’t believe this guy.  Yeah, I’m white, but I could easily be married to a black woman.  And yes, I said before, some of my closest friends happen to be black.  I don’t want to be on my high horse, but that’s just WRONG to put that out to someone you don’t know.

Minutes later, he says, can you run my tab?  I say, sure no problem.  I run his tab, it’s around 30 bucks.  I put it in a folder, hand it to him.  I say, fakely, hey.  Thanks for sitting at my bar!  He says, sure.  Thanks.

He signs his slip, leaves, I look, it’s a 2 dollar tip.

Great guy.  Racist…and cheap.

The perfect combo.




A Baseball Analogy

I was having an interesting conversation recently with a fellow Realtor.  He’s this big baseball fan, actually coached baseball for a while.  Me on the other hand, not really interested in baseball.  But I can appreciate someone’s appreciation for the game.  So we’re talking, and he tells me, do you know what Babe Ruth’s batting average was?  I say, I have no idea.  He says, it was .342.  I say, you know, to be honest with you, I never really understood that number.  Is that really good?  He says, it’s out of 1000.  In Babe Ruth’s case, it basically means he hit the ball 34% of the time.

Huh.  Now that’s a really interesting statistic to me.  Here you got this guy, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and he hits the ball 34% of the time.  So 66% of the time, he’s missing.  Does that sound like a great average to you?  Not really.  He is MISSING a majority of the time.  66% of the time, to be exact!

And here’s another analogy on life.  Every day, we get up, we swing at the ball.  Are we going to hit a home run every time we swing?  Hell no.  Are we going to make CONTACT with the ball, every time we swing?  PROBABLY NOT.  So what can you do?  Sure, you can keep on swinging, every day.  Practice, of course.  That helps.  But MENTALLY you have to accept, if you compare life to the baseball analogy, that you’re going to miss a majority of the time.  But in the LONG RUN, you’re going to hit it 30% of the time, at a pro level.  So don’t sweat every time you miss it.  That’s going to happen.  The majority of the time.  Just swing, swing, keep on swinging.

And take the emotion out of the missing.  Because it’s inevitable.  Even for someone like the Babe.



Are You Really The Tooth Fairy?

I’m at the hotel bar, filling in as a server, it’s insane busy, wrestling tournament in town.  I’ve got about seven tables, I’m running around one table to the next, taking orders, delivering drinks, making sure everyone is happy.  A table of eight sit down, I take care of them.  They all order food, drinks, I pray for one check.  Nothing worse than being busy, then having a table of eight who all want separate checks.  But I somehow survive.

I get a long text from the wife.  Actually four in a row.  Sounds like things have hit the fan at the homestead.  I go in the server’s station, take a second to read what’s going on.  Earlier in the day, my 10 year-old son Liam lost a tooth.  It actually came out as I was driving back to school for a parent-teacher conference right before my evening shift.  He was pretty nonchalant about it.  Hey, I lost a tooth.  I’m like, DON’T GET ANY BLOOD IN MY CAR!!!!

Well, the text from the wife has to do with the tooth.  Apparently, right before bed, when my wife is tucking him in, Liam asks the big question.  Are you really the tooth fairy?  In a moment of weakness, the wife admits that yes, we are actually the ones that put the money under the pillow.  That DOES NOT go over well, according to the text.  Liam FREAKS OUT, and gets really upset about it.  No tooth fairy?  What about Santa?  Or the Easter Bunny?  Is that you too?  My wife, after a long day of work and family, doesn’t have the strength for THE TALK and says, no, no, of course Santa and the Easter Bunny exist.  The last text I receive from her states simply, please bring home a 10 dollar bill for “the tooth fairy.”  Yes.  She quoted the tooth fairy.

Unfortunately a reality at hotel serving/bartending is you don’t get much cash tips.  It’s mainly credit card tips, which is fine, whatever.  So i have to figure out a way to get a 10 dollar bill.  I’ve only got a fiver and a couple one’s so far.  But it’s still early.

I make my way to the big table.  Is there anything else I can get for you?  Everybody shakes their head no.  Ok, will this be separate checks, or on one?  I do a silent, quick prayer.  The person closest to me says, ok, I’m with him, and her.  Oh Jesus, here we go.  But then in a moment of pure God Send, Grandma at the end of the table raises her hand, and says, I’ll take it.  Then starts a commotion, oh, no, you don’t have to do it.  I silence them all, and say, great!  And make a quick exit.  I get the check, print it out, put it in a folder, and set it next to dear old Grandma.

I go help some of my other customers for about five minutes, then go back to the table to clear dishes, and pick up the check.  At the table, an attractive, middle-aged woman gets my attention.  She says, I’d like to order a round of drinks.  Is that ok?  I say, sure.  But you’ll have to start another tab if that’s ok.  She said, that’ll be fine.  I’ll pay for the round.  I take her order, couple glasses of Merlot, an Ultra, a Bud Light, go get it.

After about half hour, things seem to be winding down at the big table.  A few people have made their exit.  I go up to the woman that started the tab, and say, can I get you anything else?  She says, no.  I think we’re good.  Excellent.  I go over, run her tab, bring her the check.  She gets out her card, gives it to me, I go run it, bring it back to the table, set it down.  I say, thanks for being here tonight.  Really appreciate it.  Then she says, you know what?  Can I get one more drink?

Oh Lord have mercy.

I just start laughing.  It’s been such a long day.  I’ve worked two other jobs before this, and I’m done.  All I can do is laugh.  She says, would it be easier if I just paid you cash?  I say, you want another glass of wine?  She says, no, just top this one off.  Oh this woman.  I can’t just “top her off.”  I’m not bartending tonight, I can’t just go grab a bottle, and pour some more in.  I say, do you just want another glass of wine?  It’s like 12 dollars.  She throws down a ten and a five, says, I don’t want another glass of wine.  I just want you to top this off.  My husband will look at me funny if I get another glass.  Whatever.  I grab her 1/3 full glass of wine, and the money, and make my exit.

As I’m walking to the bar, I take a deep breath.  I gotta keep my cool.  This table has spent over $250, I got to give them good service to the bitter end.  I get to the bar, call the bartender over, say, hey, man.  Can you just top this off for me?  It’s the Merlot.  He looks at me, says, why?  I start to try to explain it, but I just give him a look that says, just please do it.  He obliges, and tops off the wine.  I go back to the table, set the glass down in front of the woman, set the money down in front of her, and say, don’t worry about it.  That’s on me.  She smiles, and says a sincere thanks.

I make my leave, go help my other customers.

After another 10 minutes, I make my way back to the big table, clear off some empty glasses, and pick up the check presenter.  I drop the glasses off at the bar to be cleaned, then make my way to the server’s station, and close the door.

I open the check presenter, and the lovely woman has given me an $8 tip on the credit card receipt, and…wait for it…

A 10 dollar bill.

Oh perfect!  Here’s my 10 dollar bill I was waiting for.  Just in the nick of time.  I start daydreaming.  I should go up to the woman, and tell her briefly the story.  How she’s going to be the tooth fairy tonight.  You know what?  I think I will.  She’ll get a kick out of it, I bet.  She looks like a mom.  I bet she can relate.

I go back to the big table, and approach the woman.  I lean down, and say, I have a funny story for you.  She says, great!  Let’s hear it.  I tell her briefly how my son lost a tooth today, and I needed 10 dollars for the “tooth fairy.”  So I really extra-appreciated the 10 dollar tip.

But she gets this strange look on her face, a reaction I wasn’t quite expecting, and then says something more magical than I could’ve ever imagined.

She says, you know I’m a dentist, right?

As if I somehow had known.



How To Get On A Stewardesses Good Side

I get a text message from one of my managers at the hotel.  Hey, Clint.  Are you available tonight to come in?  I’m needing a server.  I don’t have anything going on, I say, why not?  It’s usually a fun gig serving at the hotel.  People are cool and chill for the most part.  It’s a good atmosphere.

I get in at 4:45, get to it.  Three ladies sit down, I approach.  Hey ladies, how you doing tonight?  My name’s Clint, can I bring you some menus, or are you just having some cocktails?  They say, yes, bring us some menus.  Absolutely, coming right up.

I take their order, a round of drinks, and food.  They ask for suggestions, I give it to them.  One of them says, we’re with the airlines.  I say, stewardesses?  They say, yeah.  I say, cool, cool.  You get a discount.  Remind me again right before I run your tab so I don’t forget.  They say, ok.

It’s around 5:30, pretty chill so far, I’ve got four tables.  Everybody’s being cool, smooth sailing.  I get to talking with the stewardesses some more.  They’re not new to the game.  Seems like they’ve been doing it for awhile.  They’re in their late thirties, early forties.

So…  What’s a pet peeve of yours?  A couple pet peeves?  One of them says, just a couple?  We all laugh.  The one that’s been the most vocal dives in.

She says, first off.  I don’t like when people touch me.  I can’t STAND when people touch me.  Sometimes, they’ll even touch me with their trash.  They’ll tap me with it.  That’s the worst.  Don’t touch me, I don ’t want to be touched.  Sometimes, when they tap me, I’ll just tap them back.

OK, I say.  Never touch the stewardess.

Another thing I hate is in the morning, when the business men run in, they go to the bathroom, and take a BIG SHIT.  It’s like, you’ve had all morning to do it.  Why do you have to run into the plane, and do it in there?  There’s bathrooms in the airport to do that.  We have to be back there where the bathrooms are, and they STINK IT UP, right off the bat.  I can’t stand that.

And then, when we’re back there, and they’re waiting for the toilet, I hate when they lean into us, and say, what are you doing?  What are you reading?  It’s like, NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

Oh these ladies are classic.  Take notes people.

You know what else I hate?  It’s when someone says, are you having a bad day?  You don’t look like you’re having fun.  You should be smiling more.  I HATE WHEN THEY SAY I SHOULD SMILE MORE.

I can actually relate to this.  It drives me nuts when people have said that to me in the past.

I say, ok, ok.  Those are good pet peeves everybody should know.  What about things you like?  Things that you’ve found considerate?

One of them says, CHOCOLATE.  I LOVE when people bring me chocolate.  NOT the cheap kind.  The good kind.

I say, people have brought you chocolate?

She says, oh yeah.  Usually around the holidays.  You want to get yourself a free round of drinks?  Bring the stewardesses chocolate.

Huh.  I have to say, I’ve never thought about bringing the stewardesses chocolate before, but it’s a good idea.

She says, anything that shows you’re being considerate, and thoughtful.  Goes a long way.

I’m DEFINITELY going to do that next time I fly.  Get on the stewardesses good side.

Lord knows that’s a good place to be.



You Had Me At Patrón

I’m working the hotel bar, three ladies walk up. What’s up, ladies?  How we doing?  Good, good. They order. Blond says, I’d like a margarita. No salt. I say, we have a specialty margarita on the menu. It’s called THE GRAND MARGARITA. It’s really good. She thinks for a second, then says, what’s in it?  I say, oh, let’s see…there’s Patrón, and Grand –

She cuts me off dramatically. 

Says, STOP RIGHT THERE. I’ve heard enough. You had me at Patrón.

I’ll take it.


When Julia Roberts Played Julia Roberts

I’m in a hotel room in Minneapolis, It’s around 10pm, I think I’ll watch a quick movie, before hitting the sack.

I check out Netflix, I see the movie Ocean’s Twelve has recently been added.  Haven’t seen that movie in ages, don’t really remember much about it, seems like it would be some light fair, perfect for the night.  I hit play, settle in.

If you know anything about the Ocean movies, they got all these huge stars together, to be in the movies.  Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, etcetera.  I believe Ocean’s Eleven was a remake.  I’m thinking the Rat Pack was involved in it.  Seems like a no-brainer.  Fun heist movie.  Get all these huge stars in it.  Money in the bank.

In Ocean’s Twelve, the sequel to the remake, the basic premise is they all get busted for pulling off the initial heist by the victim, played by the casino owner, Andy Garcia, and they’re forced to pull off another lucrative heist, to pay him back, “with interest”.  To be honest, I remember the movies to be a lot cooler than they’ve ended up being.  After watching Ocean’s Twelve, it seems dated, and mostly corny.  But I was entertained.  And amused at how much Brad Pitt eats during both movies.

Watch the movies back to back, and in almost every scene Brad Pitt is in, he’s munching on something.  I don’t know if that’s in the original or not, but I thought it was pretty comical.

One thing that struck me about Ocean’s Twelve was Julia Roberts character.  Near the end of the movie, part of the heist had her playing the part of a movie star.  Julia Roberts.  I wonder if that was easy for her to do?  In the movie, she’s playing this “normal person” that is married to/with George Clooney’s character.  Then, at a certain point, she has to “play herself” outside the movie.  She puts on the big dark sunglasses, the floppy hat, the million dollar smile.  Oh, but wait, guess who has arrived at the same hotel?  Bruce Willis as himself.  And they’re best buds, of course.  But he doesn’t seem to realize that this person is not Julia Roberts, but is actually IMPERSONATING Julia Roberts.  But wait…ok, she really is Julia Roberts.  A real mind bender.  It’s cute, but I bet it was fun/strange for Julia Roberts to play.  She had to do some soul searching.  Who am I?  Who is Julia Roberts the movie star?  How do I impersonate myself?  I can’t do it with complete confidence.  I can’t be too good.  I have to play it a bit nervous at certain times.  What happens if they realize I’m NOT Julia Roberts?

But then she probably already lives those kinds of moments in her real life.  How she perceives herself, is probably completely different than how others perceive her, naturally, and I’m sure she’s aware of that.  She wakes up just like us every day with morning breath.  She puts on the smile, plays the persona of Julia Roberts I’m sure.  Maybe it was a liberating experience for her and she really didn’t have to act that much because she’s felt that insecurity before of people finding out that she’s actually just a normal person, and NOT a walking movie star 24/7.

I was lucky enough to meet Julia Roberts many years ago at a bowling alley wrap party for Erin Brockovich.  My friend Rhona Meyers was one of the costumers on the movie, and I was her date for the afternoon.  At one moment in between terrible games of bowling on my end, Rhona says, Clint, I’d like you to meet Julia.  There I am in the late 90’s in a bowling alley face to face with one of the biggest stars on the planet.  She is truly gorgeous/stunning in real life.  I stick out my hand, she takes it, and says, simply, hi.  I’m Julia.  I smile, thinking to myself, of course you are! but how wonderful it is that she said it anyway.

-Clint Curtis


Don’t Get Discouraged

I was having a conversation recently with my mom.  I had just found out I had booked an acting part, so I called her to share the news.  I can always count on dear old mom to be excited for me.  She says, I’m proud of you.  You know, you never get discouraged.

That felt really good to hear.  Though it’s not completely true.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had moments in my life when I’ve felt discouraged.  But I do try to push through that feeling.  Because I know it will never get me where I ultimately want to get.

For the next couple days after my conversation with my mom, I thought about the word discouraged.  What does it mean exactly?  Well, it has that big word in it, doesn’t it?  COURAGE.  Then Dis.  So in a way, it’s like losing your courage, and that’s it right there.  You want to accomplish something, it’s not working out, and you get DISCOURAGED that it’s not going to happen.  You LOSE your courage, then maybe you give up.  Hm.  So if you have that quality about you, that you never get discouraged, well, that’s an amazing trait to have.  There’s so much positivity about it.  You have to see things a little differently then, when things don’t go your way, so you won’t get discouraged.

I feel it’s REALLY easy to get discouraged when auditioning.  You put your heart and soul into auditioning for a part, then most of the time, you don’t get it.  As the auditions mount that you don’t get, something starts to slip.  You start to give up a little bit.  Stop trying perhaps as much.  Why should I memorize these lines?  I’m PROBABLY not going to get the part, so why waste the time?  Oh, if I memorize the lines, it’ll show that I care too much.  I’ll just get the gist of it, wing it.

For my recent auditions, my main objective is not to “get the part”.  I believe you will get discouraged if that’s your main objective.  Because 9 times out of 10, you will fail that objective.  So you have to find an objective you can accomplish 8 times out of 10.  And for auditions, my objective is to “impress the hell out of the casting director,” or if I’m sending in an audition to my agent, do the audition so well that it impresses them.  I believe I have control over that.  Having a really, really good audition.  Actually GETTING THE PART is out of my hands, because there’s too many factors involved that have nothing to do with talent.  The big one is is do I look the part?  Or rather, do I look like the guy the director is envisioning for the part?  Hell if I know.  That is WAY out of my control.  But what I can do is work my ass off on the audition as much as possible.  Think it through.  Then go in for the audition, and get the casting director to think, wow!  Clint is a great actor.  Maybe he’s not right for this part, but when something down the line comes that he fits the description for, he’s our man.

And I’m telling you, if you’re out there and reading this and thinking about going for an acting career, I think that’s great, but you’re going to really have to play some mind tricks with yourself to make it through.  In order to “make it” you can’t get discouraged.  And in this business, It’s SO EASY to do.  I mean, think about getting rejected, told no, 5 times a week.  It wears on you.  It’s easy to lose the joy in it.  It’s easy to feel down.  So if you want to make it as long as I have in the business, you have to change your objective.  So that you can survive.

I think it’s like that with a lot of things.  To get something, sometimes you don’t just go at it straight on.  I mean, if it comes to you, great.  It’s like if you go out on the town, and your objective is “to meet mr/mrs right.”  That’s probably not going to happen.  But maybe you should make your objective, I want to have three conversations with women I don’t know tonight.  There’s probably a better chance at succeeding in that goal, than meeting the person of your dreams.  And if you keep your objective at just meeting new people, you have a better chance at not getting discouraged.  And I GUARANTEE with this new objective, you have a better chance at meeting the right person for you.

There’s no time in this life to get discouraged.  Why get discouraged?  If you’re getting discouraged about something, CHANGE YOUR OBJECTIVE so you can win more.  I think that’s got to be the worst objective:  to win.  How boring, shallow, and unfulfilling.  Because the winning is so fleeting.  It’s a high like any other drug can give you.  With acting, with probably a lot of things that are competitive, you have to find a joy in the process.  The getting there.  Not just the goal line.  Not just getting the part, and doing it.  But the entire process.  If you don’t, you’re never going to last, and you’ll give up.  Because you get the part, and do it, about 4% of the time.  You’ve got to figure out a way to deal with the other 96%.  And NOT get discouraged.

In closing, I think it’s impossible to not feel discouraged from time to time about life, and things not working out the way we want.  But I GUARANTEE you will not achieve any of your dreams if your positivity and all your enthusiasm, becomes negativity, and hopelessness BECAUSE you become discouraged that it’s not working out.  Change your objective in your mind so that you can achieve more and not become discouraged when things don’t happen as fast as we want them.  Because my friends, they never will happen on your dreamt up timeline.

Best throw that away, and figure out a way to never get discouraged no matter how long it takes.